Stade Francais laid down a marker in Saturday’s impressive 35-24 win over last season’s Top 14 table-toppers La Rochelle.


The European Challenge Cup winners, who finished seventh last term, produced a stunning first-half display and held off a fightback from the visitors to put aside the disappointment of their opening-game loss to Lyon.

Greg Cooper’s side were irresistible in the first 40 minutes, leaving La Rochelle to nurse a 30-7 half-time deficit as the great Sergio Parisse dotted down after Antoine Burban, Alexandre Flanquart, and Tony Ensor had crossed the whitewash.

La Rochelle, winners over Brive in their season opener, proved a greater threat after the interval, but Afa Amosa’s five-pointer and a late penalty try, adding to Dany Priso’s first-half score, were not enough to forge a route back into the contest, with Marvin O’Connor responding for the hosts.

Newly promoted Agen got their first win of the season as Racing 92 succumbed to a 23-19 loss, while Castres overcame Bordeaux-Begles 33-19.

Elsewhere, Lyon downed Brive 29-14, Montpellier clocked up 21 unanswered second-half points to thrash Oyonnax 37-6, and Pau remain pointless following a 23-19 defeat to Toulouse.

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